Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published August 2nd 2011
With the closure and relocation of City Basement Books and the fall of Borders, you could be forgiven for thinking that Melbourne's book culture – especially second-hand books – was flagging. Book Affair, on 161 Elgin St, is evidence that there's life in it yet. The front window is full of battered classics and trendy paper sculptures, and the inside is full of nooks and crannies that reward careful investigation.
Upstairs to the Philosophy section.
Emerging authors and poets occasionally hold presentations or readings inside, along with graphic designers and artists. One of the regular sessions is called Stories on a Sunday Afternoon: check the website for times and further details.
Despite the small location, Book Affair has three separate levels: an upper level, containing philosophy, poetry and classics; a ground level where the regular novels are kept; and a lower level with crime and Australiana. The floorboards of the ground level form the ceiling of the lower level, and the footsteps of people entering the shop are clearly audible from below. Books are crammed into every available space, filling the bookshelves and even occasional holes in the brick wall.
One of the many paper sculptures.
Like most second-hand bookshops, organisation and filing is patchy – don't go into Book Affair looking for a particular volume. Instead, have a general idea of what you want (poetry, for example, or a thrilling crime novel) and browse the selection on offer. There's no better way to discover new and exciting stories.